I hate Led Zeppelin. Always have. Well, that's not true. I haven't always hated them. I only started hating them after I heard them for the first time. But as the chords to 'The Ocean' crashed out on the stage of the charmingly named Classic Grand, I could almost picture Graham Bonnet sitting backstage, eyes closed, thinking he's about to go on stage at the Glasgow McNugget Enormodrome with Led Zeppelin supporting him. As it should be. But he's not. And it's not Led Zeppelin, it's the Led Zeppelin Story, replete with Bad News Vim Fuego hair, and there's 200 punters here, not 40,000 as there were at the first Monsters Of Rock.
But it could have been, if Bonnet hadn't messed up big time back in the eighties. Mind you, working with Ritchie Blackmore and Schenker, only to end up hiring Yngwie Malmsteen for your own band is enough to send anyone a wee bit off the rails. But, if nothing else, it means there's a few good songs tucked away for tonight's gig, ostensibly by the Taz Taylor Band, who have added Bonnet to their ranks for their new album.
So, the show kicks off with a double blast from the Rainbow "Down To Earth" album, with 'Eyes Of The World' and 'Love's No Friend'. The former is a bit ropy, although towards the end of the show Bonnet makes mention of the band being smitten by illness, but you'd never know it from a shining 'Love's No Friend', one of my favourite Rainbow numbers.
The band do play a handful of numbers off their new album, and there's a mid-set lull when Taz and the boys get to play a brief instrumental set. It's also unfortunate that the new songs suffer from their close proximity to the old ones. They're good songs but they pale beside the back catalogue gems. And that's not why people are here. They want the classics, so there's only one Alkatrazz track in the shape of 'Suffer Me' and one Michael Schenker Group track, 'The Desert Song'. And for five minutes during that Camel Song, Bonnet hits a peak. It's a fabulous song, a bit of a lost classic, and it's stunning.
The amusing part of the show is Bonnet not being able to remember the words to the new songs, which is fair enough for a man who'll turn 60 this year, but it was out and out funny when he couldn't remember the words to 'Stargazer'. Naturally the show has to end with the double blast of 'Since You Been Gone' and 'All Night Long', a coupling which makes the crowd very happy indeed. The band return for a pop at 'Lost In Hollywood', and then it's all over. A sparse crowd probably means he won't be back, but with an always outstanding voice pretty much intact, give or take a few high notes, it was a bit of a treat.
review: Stuart A Hamilton
Zeitgeist, PO Box 13499, Edinburgh EH6 8YL, UK